Philippians 4:10-13 (NRSV)
10 I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. 11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Paul is telling the Philippians that he has learned to be content no matter what his situation. Good words for a culture that seems to be discontent. We are unhappy with our jobs, our friends, our teachers, our church, our neighbor, our spouse, and our status. We just can’t seem to rejoice, as Paul would say, in what we have and what we have received. The wealthy John D. Rockefeller was once asked, “How much does it take to satisfy a man? His reply, “A little bit more than he has.”How true!
It reminds me of something I observed many years ago when I was the pastor of Central UMC in Canton, North Carolina. One morning I stopped to observe the preschool children playing. I noticed two boys, one was on a tricycle and the other boy wanted to ride it. Before they came to blows, a teacher stepped in and told the boy on the tricycle that he needed to let the other boy have a turn. The young boy reluctantly gave up the tricycle and the other boy rode off with a look of triumph on his face.
I noticed that as soon as the first boy got busy doing something else and no longer desired having the tricycle to himself, the other boy lost interest in the tricycle also. He hadn’t been on the tricycle two minutes before he was on to something else more interesting. The young boy got what he wanted but quickly discovered that it didn’t bring the satisfaction that he thought it would.
This seems to be the underlying pattern for many people’s lives. We pursue things and goals and do whatever it takes to get what we want and then after arriving at our goal, we discover that we are still not content. Paul says that he has learned to be content with whatever he has. He’s had much and he’s had nothing. He’s had a belly full of food and he’s been hungry. Whatever his circumstances he’s learned to rejoice and do all things because of his faith in Christ. Good words. Think about it.